Brown CS News

Andy van Dam Receives Honorary Doctorate from ETH Zurich


    Andy van Dam was recently awarded an honorary doctorate from ETH Zurich, his fourth such honor. This degree honors Andy’s fundamental contributions to research and development of graphics in general and interactive graphical user interfaces in particular. He is also known for pioneering work on multiple hypertext systems, starting in 1967 with the Hypertext Editing System, co-designed with Ted Nelson and largely implemented by undergraduates, and for the use of hypertext systems in the humanities. Andy also co-founded ACM SICGRAPH, the precursor of today’s ACM SIGGRAPH, and is the co-author of field-defining textbooks in computer graphics “Fundamentals of Interactive Computer Graphics” (with J.D. Foley) and “Computer Graphics: Principles and Practice,” with J.D. Foley, S.K. Feiner and J.F. Hughes.

    “I am most grateful for this tremendous honor especially from such a distinguished University as the ETH,” Andy said. “I owe a huge debt of gratitude to my students and colleagues who contributed so much to my career over the years.”

    Andy is the second person to ever receive a Ph.D. in Computer Science, which he earned at the University of Pennsylvania in 1966. He came to Brown in 1965, and was one of the co-founders of the Department of Computer Science. Andy was also the department’s first Chairman, from 1979 to 1985. From 1996 to1998 he was a Principal Investigator and the Director of the NSF Science and Technology Center for Graphics and Visualization, a research consortium including Brown, Caltech, Cornell, North Carolina (Chapel Hill), and the University of Utah. He also served as Brown’s first Vice President of Research from 2002 to 2006.

    Over the years, Andy’s research has been focused on computer graphics, hypermedia systems, post-WIMP user interfaces, including pen-centric computing, and educational software. For more than four decades, he has been working on systems for creating and reading electronic books with interactive illustrations for use in teaching and research.